Internet activism’s posterboy Aaron Swartz ended his life yesterday and left a vacuum in the world of independent and serious voices advocating free sharing of important information which shouldn’t be concealed under the guise of privacy laws.
Swartz was indicted for stealing more than 4 million documents from the highly prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) faced 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted. His trial was to start later this year.
Following his death many important voices have questioned the seriousness of the charges and have criticized the case as unfair.
Lawerence Lessig, founder of creative commons has lashed out at the government agencies in his latest blog post. He writes, “From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The “property” Aaron had “stolen,” we were told, was worth “millions of dollars” — with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime. But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.”
Many of us in the blogsposhere too are equally guilty, as not many tech journalists realized what Aaron went through and published one story after another subjecting him to online media trail. Not many of us tried to delve deep into the case to find the seriousness or absurdity of the charges and proclaimed him as accused even before the actual trial had began. We all owe an unconditional apology to him.
We at WMW request you, in this moment of grief, show your solidarity with his family and grieved ones by signing this online petition, asking President Obama to pardon Swartz posthumously.